Steamboat Willie Unlocked

Battle of the Senses Series, No. 45

  • Size: 14″ x 14″ x 1.5″
  • Substrate: Canvas
  • Medium: Oil pen on Acrylic

Back in January of 2011, I met with Violinist/Documentarian Paul Festa for his film entitled “Tie It Into My Hand”, in where he filmed different artists of different backgrounds to teach him how to play Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto better. The spin on the film was that no one was a violinist and in some way fashion and form, we had to .. tell him when he was playing it wrong.  (You can read a little about this on No. 13, “Lightbulb City, Population: Infinite”)

In my particular lesson, I wanted to focus on the emotional intent and storyline of the piece, and have Paul play those feelings through his instrument. Since I wasn’t a violinist, I asked Paul to imagine the color that best represents the emotion of the piece, and have him play that hue to the best of his ability. The other obstacle to this, was that I am colorblind, so I had to feel the temperature, convert that into color, and let him know when he was playing it wrong.

In the end, I converted the 9 minute lesson by a 24 x 24 inch canvas gridded by 144 squares, and broke each square into 3.75 seconds of music. I placed the colors of the music into each square with corresponding geometric shapes to convey spikes, peaks, drops, and double tones. In the end this project went beyond the spectrum of the film, and became an individual biography piece called “For You to See” within the Film “OTHER THAN”*, which debuted at Cannes last year!

Not only that, but I received an acceptance to apply to The Smithsonian’s Artist Residency Fellowship with a chance to further the idea as a collection called “Chromatones”.

I decided to extend this form of Synesthesia art into the TENxTENxTEN collection underneath the “Battle of the Senses” Series. The background on this piece is a translation of pitch and frequency converted into colors and guided by geometric shapes. The music being translated is “Turkey in the Straw” from Disney’s 1928 classic, “Steamboat Willie”. This is 108 seconds of sound divided into 49 two inch squares measuring 2.2 seconds of music per square. The colors portray the high jovial pitches of sound, with minimal lower jovial undertones throughout the piece.



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